As COVID aid flows to Ky schools, public must engage to make sure it's well spent

Recently, the Prichard Committee hosted a meeting in Lexington to discuss American Rescue Plan funds for education. We were eager to get our hands dirty and discuss how we can use the lessons learned from the pandemic to rebuild a foundation for education that is stronger and more resilient.Our most vulnerable children have been academically behind for far too long. Many students don't have access to the high-quality programs that will prepare them for college and work. Now, the hard-won achievements in education improvement since the 1990s are showing signs of decline. Even worse, the online and hybrid school structures have caused academic setbacks in recent years.The American Rescue Plan offers a unique opportunity to help education recover and lay the foundation for future success. The federal government has allocated $123 billion in federal funding to all 50 states. Kentucky will receive $2.1 million to distribute to its 171 districts as well as the department of education. Fayette County Public School will be receiving more than $101 millions over the next three-years. We want to make sure this funding is properly spent.The percentage of students with low incomes enrolled in each district has been used to determine how these funds were distributed. Families and other community members should now come to the table to voice their concerns about student needs. As districts plan how they will spend the money, it is important that stakeholders have meaningful input.The American Rescue Plan mandates that schools create education recovery plans. These plans must include funding for tools to measure student learning loss and after-school enrichment programs. Education interventions must address students' learning and social, mental and emotional needs. All interventions must be equitable and address the needs of students who are poor, homeless, learning English or have a disability. The Fayette County School Board must submit its plan to the Kentucky Department of Education no later than July 31.The Prichard Committee offers resources to community members who want to learn more about how the American Recovery Plan has affected our schools. It also encourages stakeholders to contact the board of education members to discuss their needs and share ideas regarding the use of these funds. These plans must be developed quickly because schools cannot go back to normal.Wendi Keene is part of the Groundswell Initiative, a Prichard Committees member. Christian Motley is part of the Prichard Committee Board of Directors.